Poll: 56% of New Yorkers OK With Casinos

Racetracks seize upon results to push for table games at their facilities.

The push and pull by advocates and detractors has yet to begin, but more than half of New Yorkers believe the state should permit full-fledged casinos beyond Indian-owned gambling facilities, a new poll has found.

The Quinnipiac University poll that found 56%-37% support of Las Vegas-style casinos was quickly used by a consortium of racetrack operators to press their case to amend the state constitution to permit table games at track-based casinos now in operation.

“We’re very encouraged by this poll because we’re just beginning the process of letting people know the economic advantages of enhanced gaming,” said James Featherstonhaugh, president of the New York Gaming Association and a partner in Saratoga Casino and Raceway.

When the 3.1% margin of error is factored in, support is about even for expanding casinos by residents from upstate, downstate suburbs, and New York City, the Quinnipiac poll found.

Sixty-four percent of respondents said the casinos would be good for the economy. On the flip side, 63% acknowledge the idea could foster problem gambling in the state.

“New Yorkers of every stripe say what stays in Vegas should stay in the Empire State as well,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

State legislators in both houses said they will press for passage early next year of the first step in a constitutional amendment process to permit more non-Indian casinos. Currently, three tribes operate casinos in the state.

Amending the constitution requires votes by two consecutive sessions of the legislature and then passage by a statewide referendum. The earliest a statewide vote could occur is November 2013.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated that his administration is exploring whether to bring more casinos to New York. He said he will make up his mind in January.